World's first floating wind prototype with TLP system produces first kWh

The system dramatically reduces the environmental footprint and improves compatibility with other sea uses.
Jijo Malayil
X1 Wind's prototype
X1 Wind's prototype

X1 Wind  

In a boost to further wind energy generation, the world’s only floating wind platform currently installed with a tension leg platform (TLP) mooring system has kickstarted its operations with the production of its first kWh. The facility developed by X1 Wind, a floating wind technology developer based in Barcelona, is anchored in the Canary Islands, which is situated near Spain. 

Its X30 floating wind prototype's TLP system "dramatically reduces the environmental footprint and improves compatibility with other sea uses. It further heralds Spain’s first floating wind prototype to export electricity via a subsea cable," said a press release from the X1 Wind. 

The first transfer of power produced was to an offshore platform smart grid via a 0.86-mile (1.4-kilometer) underwater cable. The team will now move on to finish the final testing and verification process which was started after its installation in November 2022. The process is being done as part of its preparation to scale up the technology and certification for commercial projects. 

According to the firm, the developments puts X1 Wind on track to deliver 15MW platforms and beyond in deepwater sites around the globe. "Floating wind is set to play a vital role in supporting the future energy transition, global decarbonization, and ambitious net-zero targets," said Carlos Casanovas, X1 Wind CTO and Co-founder. 

Technology that helps to maximize yield and reduce the footprint

The wind farm is developed using the PivotBuoy Project, which combines the merits of single-point mooring (SPM) and TLP systems. The SPM enables the floater to weathervane to an extent and maximizes energy yields with an "electrical swivel ensuring electricity transfer without cable twisting." While the TLP mooring technology helps to reduce the seabed footprint when "compared to traditional designs proposing catenary mooring lines, minimizing environmental impact while maximizing compatibility with other sea uses, in addition to its suitability to move into deeper waters."

The system offered by X1 Wind ensures a self-orientating floating design that reduces the weight and minimizes installation and maintenance costs, making floating wind competitive.

The PivotBuoy Project was developed using a $4.25 million (€4 million) grant from the European Commission H2020 Program, which included a consortium coordinated by X1 Wind and other leading companies like EDP NEW, DNV, INTECSEA, ESM and DEGIMA and world-class research centers WavEC, DTU, and PLOCAN. 

Highly modular design to help in scalability

The design helps the firm adapt to various construction requirements, making it highly scalable. "Turbine developers are already working on rotor designs large of 15MW+, and our structural platform design works more efficiently (avoiding the high bending moments in tower-based systems) as well as allowing turbine blades to be lighter, longer, and cheaper as they can bend away from the structure."